Swimming-in-Paint Online Gallery
Swimming-in-Paint (SIP) is a great example of what Crossroads Art Center (CAC) is all about- developing artist’s careers from novice to notable. The group was formed in 2016 when their leader, artist, Chuck Larivey, OPA, noticed a core group of approximately ten people coming to watch his painting demonstrations at CAC. After a few months of prodding, he offered a “Paint-along” style class on weekends and SIP was formed. “The group came together and morphed towards selling their art,” says Larivey but members cite his prowess as their initial motivator. “These demos began in March, and I was there at almost every session,” says Terry Lacy, “It was exciting for me to watch a ‘master’ paint.” Victoria Gross adds, “I had seen Chuck Larivey's work on a trip to Crossroads before I joined SIP. I was in awe. When I found out that I could study under him, I couldn't believe my luck!”
At the time, the majority of SIP’s members were working professionals, so Larivey offered three-day sessions over weekends. The members painted their own version of whatever Larivey was painting. He felt this was the best format initially because some of the members were just really starting to paint. Since they were all painting the same subject, individuals could ask questions and they would be relevant to the group. Later, as each member’s talent’s developed, Larivey encouraged them to choose their own subjects and use the group as a support system rather than a class. “I’m the second set of eyes,” he says, offering advice like, “More paint, “and “Use purer color”. Lacy says that the best advice she has gotten from Larivey is, “Be fearless! What have you got to lose?" In terms of technique, Larivey guides SIP members to follow the light as it drifts across the surface causing shadows and value changes and things like that. As a result, “Their work is about light, shadow and color,” he says.
Although technique is important to Larivey and his Group, he believes that success as an artist means ultimately sharing and selling your art. “The focus is on what they like to paint and sells,” he says. SIP members benefit from his knowledge of marketing and what sells in terms of subject selection, framing, colors, painting size and getting it on the wall. Bev Perdue says, “Chuck is an amazing artist as well as having great pointers on how to promote one’s art to potential buyers.” This approach has changed the trajectory of some of his mentees. Gross says, "At first I had no interest in selling my work. Now, I realize that showing my work and allowing it to leave me is part of my growth process.” “Chuck is a gifted artist with extensive knowledge of every aspect of art and the business of art,” says Susan Paavola. “He genuinely wants every one of his mentees to succeed.” Mike Haubenstock says, “Its a privilege to work with a master. Chuck will act as teacher and coach as well as partner in marketing …whatever we need.”
And succeed they have.
Some group members have their own exhibition spaces at CAC while most exhibit in the Swimming-in-Paint gallery, a space primarily designated for SIP members near Larivey’s CAC space. Almost all of them have joined professional artist organizations and sell consistently. But perhaps the most successful thing about SIP is how the members feel nurtured. “Crossroads gives us the space and time to get together and support each other,” says Larivey. “There is also a healthy amount of competition. I push them as a group.” “The artists in this group are very well accomplished,” Paavola says. “It's helpful to see the different styles of painting and also provides an incentive to keep improving and upping your game.” “Being part of SIP and having Chuck as our coach has made each member a stronger artist,” says Elizabeth Longstreet. “The camaraderie and energy derived from painting together is a spark to me and I believe to the other SIP artist, which encourages us to be our best!”
Like CAC the goal of SIP is to make artists successful by anyone’s standard. “The SIP group really does sum up all that we do here at the art center,” says CAC owner, Jenni Kirby. “They have access to support from a successful artist, a space to show and sell their work and a group of artists to learn from and commune with- it’s just what we do here.” Gross experiences that kind of attention in SIP. She says, “We may start with different gifts, and we may grow at different paces but, he makes us believe that the sky is the limit if we give our practice the attention that it deserves.”